FORMER finalist Gary Mawson will kick off the 2010 UK Open when he takes on Rileys Amateur Qualifier Ashley Whisker on the main stage at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton on Thursday June 3.

American ace Mawson, whose family hail from Bolton, enjoyed the finest weekend of his darts career two years ago when he battled through to the final of the UK Open, defeating reigning champion Raymond van Barneveld along the way, before losing out to James Wade.

Mawson is one of 106 players who will take part in the Preliminary, First and Second Rounds at the Reebok Stadium when the four-day UK Open – nicknamed “The FA Cup of Darts” due to the free draw format for each round – begins on June 3, screened live on Sky Sports.

The Preliminary and First Rounds feature the players placed from 65-96 in the UK Open Order of Merit, following eight qualifying events, along with the 32 Rileys Amateur Qualifiers and ten BDO County Qualifiers.

Mawson has drawn Basildon-based Ashley Whisker – a 26-year-old tractor driver – in the Preliminary Round, with their match opening the tournament on the Main Stage, which is one of eight stages which will host simultanous action around the Reebok Stadium’s Premier Suite.

Chorley’s Louis Blundell meets former World Champion Richie Burnett in one of four First Round games to be played on the Main Stage, which also include the Roses battle between Lancashire’s Darren Latham and Yorkshire starlet Joe Cullen, Steve Hine’s clash with Northumberland’s Ian Gleeson and Leeds-based Rileys Qualifier Stuart Monaghan against Irish debutant William O’Connor.

Thursday’s opening night also features the Second Round games involving the players who finished from 33-64 in the UK Open Order of Merit, with popular star Wayne Mardle drawn against Ireland’s Mick McGowan on the Main Stage.

Former World Championship finalist Kirk Shepherd was drawn with Adrian Gray, while promising youngster Arron Monk – the son of experienced professional Colin Monk – faces Nick Fullwell and Paul Nicholson, the totesport.com Players Championship winner in January, will face either Peter Hudson, Paul Neate or Dave Smith.

Board two’s matches on the opening night include Manchester-based Rileys Qualifier Paul Whitworth up against Scotland’s Chris Loudon, last year’s quarter-finalist Mark Lawrence taking on Alex Roy and games involving former World Champion Steve Beaton, Kevin McDine and Mark Frost.

Jyhan Artut, the emerging German who knocked Mardle out of the World Championship last December, meets Kevin Dowling in a Preliminary Round contest on Board Three, while Bristol’s Steve Brown clashes with Welshman Wayne Atwood in the Second Round on Board Five.

Peter Manley, the former Las Vegas Desert Classic winner who recently returned to action after suffering a health scare, has drawn St Helens-based teenager Michael Smith, with their game on Board Six likely to draw plenty of attention and coming after Scotland’s Robert Thornton faces the winner of a clash between Rileys Qualifiers Mark Wilson and Paul Gibbs.

Roland Scholten, the 2004 UK Open champion, comes up against either Bradley Williams or Joe Palmer in the Second Round as he bids to repeat his success at the Reebok Stadium.

The top 32 players, including reigning UK Open champion Phil Taylor and 2008 winner James Wade, enter the event on Friday June 4 at the Third Round stage.

Tickets for the UK Open cost from £20 and are available by calling 0844 871 2932 or by visiting the Reebok Stadium Box Office.

2010 UK Open – Schedule of Play
Thursday June 3
Main Stage
Preliminary Round
Ashley Whisker v Gary Mawson
First Round
Louis Blundell v Richie Burnett
Darren Latham v Joe Cullen
Steve Hine v Ian Gleeson
Stuart Monaghan v William O’Connor
Second Round
Kirk Shepherd v Adrian Gray
Wayne Mardle v Mick McGowan
Nick Fullwell v Arron Monk
Hudson/Neate/Dave Smith v Paul Nicholson

Board Two
Preliminary Round
Andy Hutchings v Darren Webster
First Round
John Quantock v Matt Padgett
Chris Loudon v Paul Whitworth
Hudson/Neate v Dave Smith
Riihonen/Farmer v Dean Edlin
Second Round
Alex Roy v Mark Lawrence
Kevin McDine v Harrison/Green
Grant/R Evans v Steve Beaton
Monaghan/O’Connor v Mark Frost

Board Three
Preliminary Round
Kevin Dowling v Jyhan Artut
Dean Stewart v Dylan Duo
First Round
Darren Sullivan v Tony Hutchinson
Sam Allen v Melvyn Johnston
Bradley Williams v Joe Palmer
Ryan Murray v Lowe/J Clark
Second Round
Justin Pipe v Chris Thompson
Newland/Robertson v Dennis Smith
Eastwood/Martin v Whisker/Mawson/Stewart/Duo
Harris/Hutchings/D Webster v Andy Smith

Board Four
Preliminary Round
Prakash Jiwa v John Lakeman
First Round
Robbie Newland v John Robertson
Mark Wilson v Paul Gibbs
Dean Harris v Hutchings/D Webster
Dowling/Artut v A Murray/Rand
Second Round
Colin Monk v Darren Johnson
Mark Cox v Hammond/O’Neill
Blundell/Burnett v Pinhorne/Robinson/Ringland
R Murray/Lowe/J Clark v Quantock/Padgett

Board Five
Preliminary Round
Andy Murray v Scott Rand
Par Riihonen v Steve Farmer
First Round
Gary Eastwood v David Martin
Michael Hammond v Henry O’Neill
Dave Honey v Mike Nott
Jay Foreman v Barrie Knight
Second Round
Wayne Atwood v Steve Brown
S Jones/Bowles v Michael Barnard
Draper/M Harris v Bache/Turner
Murphy/Warwick v Riihonen/Farmer/Edlin

Board Six
Preliminary Round
Kevin Lowe v Jason Clark
First Round
Alex Harrison v Jamie Green
Noel Grant v Ricky Evans
Henry Murphy v Paul Warwick
Simon Cunningham v Jiwa/Lakeman
Second Round
Robert Thornton v Wilson/Gibbs
Michael Smith v Peter Manley
Hine/Gleeson v Allen/Johnston
Broughton/Stephenson v Dowling/Artut/A Murray/Rand

Board Seven
Preliminary Round
Reece Robinson v Hugh Ringland
First Round
Matt Draper v Mark Harris
Paul Rowley v Anton Liscsey
Nicky Bache v Martyn Turner
Whisker/Mawson v Stewart/Duo
Second Round
Fisher/Webb v Chris Mason
Sullivan/Hutchinson v Steve Evans
Honey/Nott v Latham/Cullen
Williams/Palmer v Roland Scholten

Board Eight
Preliminary Round
Peter Hudson v Paul Neate
First Round
Tony Broughton v Mark Stephenson
Pete Fisher v Barrie Webb
Simon Jones v John Bowles
Danny Pinhorne v Robinson/Ringland
Second Round
Tony Ayres v Loudon/Whitworth
Rowley/Liscsey v Barrie Bates
Stephen Hardy v Foreman/Wright
Stuart Dutton v Cunningham/Jiwa/Lakeman

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